Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Paralyzed with the desire for perfection, revisisted

(Taken from an old post from last November)

God has graciously been revealing to me a character issue that needs changing. For as long as I can remember, I have been a perfectionist. This word is used so frequently that I'm not even sure if I am using it appropriately. But in this case, I am referring to my need to do things at my own high standards or not at all. Here are some examples of how this problem has negatively affected my daily life recently:
~Only fifteen minutes for a quiet time? I can only have a "good" quiet time with at least a half hour. Result: No quiet time at all!
~I would like to use my interests and talents to generate a little extra income. But with only an hour at night to invest, what's the point? Who would want anything that I don't have more time to invest in? Result: No finished products or extra income!
This wanting all or nothing seems to be a pattern in my life. I was talking to my husband about all of this and we laughed as we realized I have never played a sport due to my perfectionism. For as long as I can remember, I have danced. The funny thing about performing is that you practice dozens and dozens of hours before you perform in front of an audience. In a sense, you "perfect" your art before you expose yourself. (There's a little window into my prideful heart!)
My husband wisely asked me, "So what do you think God is trying to teach you right now?" I know that He is NOT chastising me for my eye for details or for my desire to do things well. Both are glorifying to Him if I seek to honor Him (and not myself) in my tasks. And that is a big IF!

I found a Teddy Roosevelt quote that hit me square in the eyes. It said, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." It suddenly hit me, I have been paralyzed with the desire for perfection! I can think of so many wonderful opportunities that the Lord has offered me that I have not taken. Just recently I have felt an urging to start a performing arts team at our church. But I have not moved forward because of doubting that my skills will be adequate. I was asked to emcee the women's retreat at our church, but I don't think my speaking voice is the best and could I be warm, funny, encouraging ENOUGH? My standards have become unproductive for His kingdom!
With this realization, all I know to do is run to the One who promises to love me like I am (and not leave me this way!). I need to keep my eyes fixed on the only One who is perfect. The only One who lived in this world full of money, lust, pride and deceitfulness and was perfectly unwavering and holy. I need to put one foot in front of the other and MOVE. Otherwise, I will be completely unfruitful in many areas, including my deepest desire to glorify Jesus. I am reminded that I serve a God that is BIG and GENEROUS and ABOUNDING in LOVE, and as I offer up what might seem so little and feeble, if I do so with a heart of worship, he will turn the little into much for His glory.

If nothing else, in the doing...He will change me. And maybe in doing so, He will take my eyes away from the goal of a perfect ME and set them on the Perfect ONE that never leaves me wanting.

"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands." Psalm 138:8

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sifting to find the truth

As I have mentioned before, we are reading through the book list from Five In a Row and then following up with a cooking project. I was very disappointed to not have time to explore this curriculum in depth this year, but this has been a great compromise.
This week we read Susan Chbowsky's book entitled, Who Owns the Sun?. The main point of the book was displayed through an innocent boy's questions to his father, a slave. He asks the same question about the flowers, stars, sun, "Who owns them?". His father's reply is that they are too big, beautiful, etc. to be owned. My five year old replied immediately, "We need to quit reading this book. It is not of the truth. God owns everything." I was hoping one of them would point that out! We kept reading until the end and found the point of the book. It was a very touching story of a loving Father explaining his bondage to slavery to his son. Here's the part that we all loved:

"A man is a beautiful thing, a very beautiful thing. But some men forget this...But only a fool believes he can really own another man, and only a fool will try. Mr. Finley may own my body, but I have a heart and a mind, and he can never own these..."

Then he went on to explain the reason for his freedom as being due to his "power". We talked about the difference between man and the rest of creation, being made in His image and what that entails, and who is in control of the universe. This beautifully illustrated book is a wonderful teaching tool. Although it is not biblical in nature, the content is age-appropriate, and there are many wonderful avenues for pointing children to their Savior.

Oh, and what did we cook? Chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, of course. Do you see the parallel? We didn't either.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The day at the fair

My Mom is here to soak up a little more grandbaby love this weekend. She and I decided to venture out to the fair for the day with three very excited little ones. This year was a little more complicated than the last time we went (3 years ago) because of the children's ages. The 8 year old wants to do the big rides. The 6 year old wants to do the preschool rides (he has a major fear of heights). And the 2 year old wants to do the preschool rides, but is only tall enough for the baby rides. This combination lead to children pointing and requesting all sorts of different things in different directions. We were determined to all stay together and enjoy the crisp, fall day as a whole. So they took turns. This required a little more walking...back and forth many times...from one area to another. But we didn't hear many complaints. I especially enjoyed seeing the boys ride with Lydie with the assurance that "we will take care of her". The fair is a marvelous way to usher in a beautiful season. If every season was autumn, we would never be at inside, or at home for that matter!
My favorite thing to do at the fair was the fun house. What was your favorite ride as a kid?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Another pitch for consigning

About this time last year, I wrote a post that sounded like my own personal advertisement for consigning clothes. Here it is. As my friends Maryanne says, "If you are going to buy clothes for your children, why not find things that you love?" Her children always look adorable, and she only spends pocket change on their outfits. Here's how I do it. I hope if you have a tight budget like I do, you will see that you can have beautiful clothes on any budget!
My consignment sale shopping tutorial:
1. Always volunteer for a shift and get a pass to the pre-sale. All the good stuff will be gone by Friday!
2.Take a laundry basket, or even better, a rolling cart if you have one.
3.Make a list of what you need and memorize it. But stuff it in your pocket anyway.
4.Get to the sale early, there will be a line.
5.When the doors open, make a bee-line to the area you deem most important. Have a game plan.
6.Don't panic. Start with a loud outfit, maybe a crazy pattern. Look at everything around the rack quickly, but one by one until you make it back to crazy printed outfit.
7.Throw everything you like into your basket. Check prices later.
8.Go to a quiet corner of the room and look at each item carefully. Are there holes, stains, picked fabric, funny smells? Look at prices now.
9.Return your rejects to the proper place.
10.If you love something that is priced too high, come back on Saturday. Prices are usually 50% off on the last day.
11.Pay and leave with a smile. Enjoy the satisfaction of investing well for your family!
Here's what I got today (a total of 43 items) with $100 (I chose this amount because it is what I predict to make from the clothes I am selling.):
6 new books, 2 for each child

2 puzzles, 2 games

Two pairs of shoes for Lydie...those pink GAP tennies were 75 cents!

An early Christmas present for Lydie

9 clothing items for Jaybird. Those GAP vests were $3 each.

8 clothing items for Toot...Gap, Polo, Gymboree brands- mostly $2 or $3

8 items for Lydie- that pumpkin Gymboree set in the bottom left corner was $8 for a dress, 2 tights, striped turtleneck and striped leggings. All sweaters were $2. That cream one will be adorable with a chocolate "L" monogram.
So now with hand-me-downs, birthday gifts, these clothes, and a few other good finds along the way we are ready for fall/winter. In all, I have temporarily invested around $75 per child for the season. With the exception of rare, impulse buys I only spend what I make on their clothing. (This is my second sale this season and I made $230 at the last one and predict around $100 at this sale.)

Hope this encourages someone to keep their standards high, even when their budget is low!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Doggy paddling

I am doggy paddling in the muck today. For whatever reason, maybe sin, maybe God-given personality, burdens feel especially heavy. I've been exposed to a particular amount of ugliness lately: a window into the confusing world of a homosexual, a "Christian" argument for being pro-choice, the pain of gossip, a broken friendship, and standing by my own convictions even though they are painful for others. Not to mention, the daily task of looking inward and recognizing my own sin struggles...day after day. It's all so heavy. I know that I should "cast all my cares upon Him", but it just doesn't happen instantaneously for me. It's a slow, moment-to-moment, painful process. Meanwhile, I doggy paddle with my head just above water- depending on the Lord to keep me afloat (and I know He will).
Just knowing that God is omniscient- that He knows all- and bears up under it all- is enough for me to bow down and worship Him. The cares of my own life are too much for me! But He goes further than knowing all, He continues to love me and you in spite of it all. And not only that, He takes on human form and lives among us and then lays down his life for us- while knowing it all. And best of all, He conquers it all when He is resurrected. The story never ceases to amaze me. I hope I remember to tell myself the story of the gospel every single day. If He can bear up the sins of the world, I know He can carry this weak, tired follower. I am so glad that He has walked this way before me.

Take these hands and lift them up
For I have not the strength to praise you near enough
I have nothing, I have nothing without You.
Take my voice and pour it out
Let it sing the songs of mercy I have found.
I have nothing, I have nothing without You.
All my soul needs is all your heart to cover me
So all the world can see I have nothing without You.
Take my body and build it up
May it be broken as an offering of love.
For I have nothing, I have nothing without You.
All my soul needs is all your heart to cover me
So all the world can see that I have nothing without You.
But I love you
With all my heart
With all my soul
With all my mind
All with all my strength that I can find.
Take my time on this earth
And let it glorify all that You are worth.
I have nothing, I have nothing with You.
Bebo Norman

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A post for her baby book

What is Lydie like at 2? I hope to copy these words into her baby book one day. I remember the day I bought this book. The hints of pink sent me into fits of glee. I couldn't wait to fill it up with memories. But the scary thing is, those "unforgettable moments" become foggy with new "unforgettable moments". And by the time I open the baby book, there are too few memories left!
So, the details of our girl...
~Favorite phrases: "Why, Mommy?" "Can I see?" "Jack-see, come hep (help) me!" "I pretty, Mommy!" "What's dat?" "Come on, wet's go!" "Look at me, Mommy." "Where are du guys?" "Dat boo-boo, it huts." "What about me?" "Wanna hold you kitty." (Let me hold the kitty.) "Whed it go?" "Come back, come back." "I ont apple juice tu dwink." (I want apple juice to drink.) "I wanna turnt." "Want some?" "I wanna pway." (This could mean "I want to play" or "pray!")
~Cute misunderstanding: You always say, "You welcome" instead of "thank you". So if I get something for you, you quickly say, "You welcome." And when I say, "Lydie, you say thank you when I help you. You say, "You welcome, Mommmy." I can't seem to get through...
~Favorite toys: kitty blankie, princesses (pin-sess), baby dolls, new dollhouse, music, coloring ("cut-uh"), Peaches ("Peachy") the cat, wooden kitchen, whatever the boys have
~Yucky habits: This seems to happen only in the car. You say, "Yutty..it's a boo-gure! (Yucky it's a booger!) Here, Mommy. Take it! Take it!" (Extending it on your finger and screaming.)
~Favorite color: pink, pink, pink. I think you know a few colors, but when I ask the color of an object you always say "Dat's pink!" And then you smile and laugh.
~Favorite outfit: pink tu-tu, pink crocs (You cry if I make you wear your white sandals. You say, "No, I like pink crocs! Da crocs, da crocs!" But you are beginning to understand matching. If I point to red on your shirt and show you that your crocs don't match it actually helps.) You will cry and ask to go back home if I forget to put a bow in your hair. And you love jewelry.
~Favorite cartoon: Elmo (But I plan to introduce you to Angelina Ballerina this year. And I can't wait for you to meet Fancy Nancy!)
~Size: 25 pounds, 32 1/2 inches (25% percentile)
~Favorite place: You prefer the outdoors. You also love to be away from home. You are a social butterfly!
~Favorite food: watermellon, shredded cheese, mac and cheese, chicken ("chicky"), pizza, peas, apples, chocolate chip cookies, green beans, yogurt. You graze on small portions 5 or 6 times a day.
~Personality: attention hog, very affectionate, talkative, feminine and emotional, smart, charming, Mommy's shadow, smile and laugh a lot. You have never objected to being left with someone else. It's actually exciting for you!
~Favorite book: Museum ABC, Sesame Street books
~Things you do not like: bugs (you tremble), being told what to do, uninitiated kisses, not being the focus of conversation or attention (homeschooling your brothers is your worst nightmare), your high chair
~Movin' and grovin': you can walk down the steps without holding on, you can hang like a monkey on the monkey bars and love it, you love to be upside down, you slide alone, you can put on and take off your shoes, you can draw circles and straight lines, you buckle your top buckle in your car seat, you can get your clothes (and diaper) off, you can do simple puzzles, you can stack tall towers, you can open doors, you run fast, you jump off of a small step (but are still not quite jumping off the ground)
~First Bible memory: The first verse that you can say alone: "Obey God." And at church you have learned to listen for "God made everything." And you say, "And it was good." You can sing lots of songs, too (Wheels on the Bus, Jesus Loves Me, The B-i-b-l-e, Rockin song, Twinkle Twinkle, and some of the ABC song. But your favorite song is Ring Around the Rosie. You call is "Ashes Ashes".)
What a year it has been!

Monday, September 22, 2008

A grace surprise

As Mom and Dad were going to the car to travel home yesterday, they said they had a surprise. Mom had found a beautiful "must have" at a gift shop on the way over. After a little coaxing (it doesn't take much with my Dad), he bought it for her. She decided at some point during the weekend to give her new little treasure to me. Have I mentioned before the generosity that is modeled for us by both sets of grandparents? With some arguments from me, some insisting from my Mom, and finally much gratitude on our part, she gave me this Willow Tree nativity set. A complete set. I do not own a nativity set, but I have always wanted one. I pray my Dad will make good on his promise to buy another one for Mom, too. Any way, I had to take each figurine out of the box and set it up in the kitchen before I packed it safely in the attic. (Excuse the yellow background and protruding butterfly wings.) I can not wait to enjoy this beautiful set at Christmas!
As hard as it was to accept my Mom's gift, I kept thinking about the sheer joy of giving to my own children. I wanted that feeling for my Mom. And I thought about the mysterious joy Christ felt as he sacrificially gave the ultimate gift of His very life. As my husband's Granddaddy used to tell us, "Take my gift. Rejecting a gift is like rejecting the grace of God." I'll think about that abundant grace every time we use this little wooden set.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More celebrating

What a whirlwind, wonderful weekend! We took our kids along with the high school youth group to a 3-acre corn maze on Friday night. (We forgot the camera.) The kids had a ball weaving through the paths, jumping on the trampoline, riding the hayride, and roasting marshmallows at the bonfire. What a way to welcome the fall season!
Saturday was the birthday party and a football cookout afterwards. And today we had more time with family. Here are a few pictures of yesterday's festivities.
Lydie had been asking for days and days, "Is tu-day my patty?" "How many moe days til my patty?" By golly, she was ready for her party!
Toot read the cards to Lydie. Surprisingly, she listened.
The one and only thing Lydie enjoyed about her cousins missing her big day...she got to open all the presents herself. And she was determined! Here she is laying across her gift, tearing the paper to shreds like an old pro.
The dinner spread...southern style! Ribs, bbq chicken, hashbrown casserole, salad, garlic bread. Add iced tea and lemonade and you can taste the southern roots!
None of the boys, big or small...
would stop eating.... (Poppy, my Dad)
long enough... (Papa, my father-in-law)to pose for a picture!

But the ladies posed beautifully! (Nana, my Mom)
I love this picture! (Mimi- my mother-in-law)
War Eagle! (Look Aunt Kim, she's already wearing the cheerleading outfit! It was the perfect size with just the right amount of room to grow. Thank you!)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A daisy theme

Lydie will be two tomorrow. We chose a daisy theme for her party, as daisies remind me of my little girl: sweet, beautiful, charming. I set a goal last year of finding a special "party dress" for her each year. This year, with daisies in mind, it was a challenge. But it all came together.
A little party-love in the foyer. I found these wonderful perfumed soaps in a black/white print at Old Navy for $2.50. A little ribbon and voile...a party favor.

I hung a ribbon across the kitchen window displaying pictures from the year.
I found these cute mini-clothespins and bumble bee stickers to add a little detail. I love the details!

I tied pails to the chairs with the same ribbon for a little garden feel. I got these very easy daisy cake idea from Heidi's blog. (The petals are iced twinkies.)

And then a rounder daisy with just cupcakes.
Actual party pictures soon...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Who is the teacher?

My favorite moments with my kids are when God gives me the opportunity to have a teachable moment when we are not "doing school". I had three such moments yesterday! Incredible.
~The first...

At breakfast the boys began a conversation about estimation. On their own. They asked if we could have an estimation contest with our dish of candy corn. We all wrote down our answers and counted the candy corn. They got practice counting by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s. My youngest son won the contest! (My husband's guess was the worst...he must have missed the lesson on estimation!)

~The second...
We decided to go to the playground before bedtime last night. The boys wanted to tell their Daddy about our current topic in science: the food web. The were using words like herbivore, carnivore and omnivore. They decided to look for animals at the playground and figure out which type of "eater" they were.

~The third...

We read A Pair of Red Clogs yesterday for our "read and bake" activity. It is a wonderful story set in Japan. Because we already have geography and history I did not have the time to dig into the wonderful country of Japan. But we decided together to go and eat at a Japanese restaurant hibachi style instead of having a cooking project. The boys have never eaten Japanese. We chose a new restaurant (due to their early bird special), and it just so happened to be filled with pictures that sparked many wonderful conversations. The boys learned about kimonos, sumo wrestlers, samarai warriors and Japan's location on a map. They also LOVED the chef and his tricks.
Found this quote from Ann's blog. It is an inspiration.
"A family is a mobile.
A mobile is a moving changing collection of objects
constantly in motion,
yet within the framework of a form.
A family is an art form.
People need to experience the beauty
of being part of a mobile art form...
If human relationships are to be beautiful on a wider form,
in church and state,
the individual families making up a society
have to be really worked on by someone who understands
that artists have to work to produce their art.""
~Edith Schaeffer
Thankful for the time to "experience the beauty"!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

So many choices

Isn't it the pits when you make a purchase, only to find something better the next month? That is what has happened with several of my homeschool choices.
I purchased a wonderful drawing book book and then an amazing art appreciation book (How Great Thou Art & Discovering Great Artists). They have both been fun and enjoyable. But I have just been exposed to Artistic Pursuits. Wow, it's exactly what I wanted in ONE book, as opposed to two books that do not relate to one another. The pits. To buy or not to buy? (I am thinking I should just stick with the ones I have and make a mental note for next year.)
And then there's history...I love the IDEA of Tapestry of Grace. I didn't think I would mind the extra planning and having to find all of the resource books. But guess what? Life is too busy to have to plan a curriculum...doesn't that defeat the purpose of buying it in the first place? And 3 out of every 4 books can not be found or reserved at our library. So I have to research the topic and find other books to replace the ones that are recommended. Tick tock. Time is of the essence! And so I am regretting my choice to not use Story of the World, or what seems to be even better The Mystery of History. So easy...a lesson to read, creative writing/art projects to enhance the reading and that's it! I might have to buy this one and count my losses. (I did find Tapestry at a used book store for $45, as opposed to the $250 or so that I would have paid. So that's something, I guess. Cheap me...I am thinking of all the yard sales I could raid with that $45! :) )
If you are still reading, I assume you are a homeschooler. What do you think, should I suck it up or dole out the cash?
*Pictured above: the sweet little souls that make silly decisions like this so important

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Life That Says Welcome

Tonight I am on a panel for our monthly Ladies Night Out (LNO) at church. I am going to present an opening devotion and give my 20 minute beef on our topic, "Decorating on a Dime", along with three other women on the panel. I have ALOT to say about this topic. I see decorating as the only artistic endeavor that I can justify spending my time on. Such a sad attitude! And I have always had a very slim decorating budget. So this topic excites me!

But I was a little stumped on the devotion. Devotion...decorating...devotion...decorating?? Then I began reading a new book, by God's providence, and it all fell into place. A Life That Says Welcome. The title is as lovely as the cover. And I liked the author, Karen Ehman, right away. I liked her for the same qualities that I enjoy in a friend. That is, in her writing, she is very honest with her own short comings, warm, but exhorting. This book is an practical, witty, biblically sound and fast, easy read. I recommend it!

Here is an excerpt:

"God began to teach me that there is a huge difference between entertaining and offering hospitality. Entertaining puts the emphasis on you and how you can impress others. Offering hospitality puts the emphasis on others and strives to meet their physical and spiritual needs so that they feel refreshed, not impressed, when they leave your home." (p.18)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

So long, summer

"...in late summer where the spirit of autumn takes a first stealing flight, like a spy, through the ripening country-side, and, with feigned sympathy for those who droop with August heat, puts her cool cloak of bracing air about leaf and flower and human shoulders. ~Sarah Orne Jewett
A farewell to summer. It has been a really good one. This week...70 degree highs predicted!

A warm squash casserole with honey chicken...

and peach cobbler for dessert!

A run through the sprinkler

Pulling the weeds out of the neglected summer garden

A picnic together

Playing at the park

A good sweat

Pink, flushed cheeks

This was a wonderful, summer weekend!